Talking With A Child Who Stutters
The way parents communicate with their child is very important. Most parents talk with youngsters in a way that helps them to pay attention, understand what is said, and use what they have heard. Parents can give extra help to a child who stutters.
What is stuttering?
Some children have difficulty combining sounds into words. They repeat or prolong the beginning of many words. These repetitions and prolongations are called disfluencies because they break up the smooth flow of speech.
Disfluencies may be accompanied by tightness in the speech muscles or changes in the pitch or loudness of the voice. Frequent occurrence of these stressful types of disfluencies is called “stuttering.”
How is stuttering diagnosed?
Risk factors that are noted by many specialists include the following:
- a family history of stuttering
- stuttering that has continued for 6 months or longer
- presence of other speech or language disorders
- strong fears or concerns about stuttering on the part of the child or the family
Why does stuttering develop?
There are many different theories behind the causes of stuttering. Some believe that stuttering develops when children try to avoid disfluencies that listeners have criticized or tried to correct. Others believe that it may be a result of immature speech skills or internal bodily tension. It is likely that a combination of reasons, some coming from the child and some from the listening environment, influence the patterns of a child’s disfluencies.
How can parents help their child in conversation?
- Pause to give your child a little “breathing room” after the child finished a sentence.
- Allow your child to finish words and sentences without interruption.
- Set up family rules for turn-taking at meals and other family gatherings. (Give everyone a chance to speak without interruption).
- Try to avoid comments such as “Take your time” or “Think about what you want to say first.” (The child may tense up or struggle more when the disfluency is called to his/her attention. This tension can increase stuttering).
- Model good (slower-paced) speech.